The Power to Choose

Kavanaugh is on the Supreme Court.


I shake my head and just keep moving, just keep working, just keep doing the things that I need to do to move forward in this life.

In school we were brought up with the idea that “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” were our inalienable rights. As kids, the idea of liberty and happiness would seem straightforward. As we grew up, we came to understand that there were vast differences in how we define these rights and to what lengths the government should go in defending them.

Some believe we should strive for the equal opportunity of all to achieve happiness, while others are only concerned that their own right to happiness is not impeded on to ensure the well-being of others. This second type is a free market, capitalistic pursuit, rather than an internal, existential one. Happiness is not only defined by our distance from poverty, it is also our ability to be contented with the world we live in.

I could go on thinking and cringing on it, but instead I tell myself to, “Just keep moving.”

That is the way I deal with things, when I’m feeling overwhelmed. Just keep moving. It’s a way to get things done when there’s too much to do, and you don’t have time for freaking out.  I just keep moving and let my actions sort out the rest.

There are never enough hours in the day to do everything that I want to do. Especially when one of the major things I want to do is sit around doing nothing. Whenever I get back to my room from work, and my legs are aching, I just want to lie down for a couple of hours before my next shift. But there are so many other things I want to do. I want to write. I want to read. I want to study. I want to play music. I want to listen to music. I want to put my feet up, lay back and play Pac Man on my phone and forget about writing and music and studying. It’s always a choice.

We can only make our own choices and talk to others about their choices, but we can never make choices for others, so we live our truth and keep moving.

It was a bit disconcerting that on the same day I’m set to publish this post on choices, I read the news that Kanye West had an official meeting with Donald Trump to discuss ways to help the African-American community. This is the same Kanye West that only months ago suggested slavery was a choice. To use his words, he said, “When you hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years? That sounds like a choice.”(AJC) Well it was certainly Kanye’s choice to use his words without thinking about them first. Maybe nobody told him that the punishment for slaves running away was, “whipping, shackling, hanging, beating, burning, mutilation, branding and imprisonment. Punishment was often meted out in response to disobedience or perceived infractions, but sometimes abuse was performed to re-assert the dominance of the master (or overseer) over the slave. They were punished with knives, guns, field tools and nearby objects.” (Wikipedia) Nobody chooses slavery. It is a crime against humanity, and a part of our history that can never be washed away, much less with flippant rhetoric.

And yet, this is the world that we live in – a sound bite, look at me, world, where everyone is begging for attention and nobody is stopping to watch or listen. Some find themselves being angry all of the time. Maybe we have to be angry for the fight, during the fight, to keep the fight alive. But at the end of the day, when we come home to our safe place, if we have one, we have to find a way to let it go, or we will never have a chance at finding happiness.

Some may argue why we should allow ourselves to feel happy when so many are suffering in this world. Suffering is part and parcel of the human experience. It takes no effort to suffer. Being happy is what takes work. And we all deserve to be happy.

We can’t expect happiness for ourselves without being willing to support the happiness of others. Happiness doesn’t live in a vacuum. Although it is an internal experience, it is also a highly contagious disease that we can all do our part to spread – athough most of us put on a face mask so as not to allow a drop of our own happiness to pollute another.

And still, Kavanaugh is on the Supreme Court.

My main issue with conservatives is that their interpretation of, “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” is a very dog-eat-dog style pursuit, where whoever has the means to crush the other should not be impeded in doing so. If we all have the inalienable right to these three things, then you would assume that would include protecting the plight of all types of minorities (cultural, religious, sexually defined or ambiguous) against hate crimes and endemic societal discrimination. You would also think that it would include a, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,”(NC) ideology.

The idea of a common sense, unifying understanding of what it means to be American, is pretty much dead. In countries where America has a history of meddling in their elections and supporting guerrilla warfare, the idea of America is of a “Big Brother” Orwellian state. The idea that I grew up with during the cold war, that we were the good guys, has become… complicated, in a post 9-11 world. There are no more good guys. Everyone is just out to protect themselves, their people, their state, or their family. The leaders-of-the-free-world, or “hero,” philosophical ideals, have been replaced with a whatever-it-takes-to-stay-ahead mentality.  Indeed, the idea of America has been complicated since the outset, with the founding fathers fighting over the hideous nature of slavery and what part it would have in the new world they were creating.  This need to be a beacon of light to the world while millions live in poverty at home, continually confounds one of the richest countries on the planet. Even before social media, image has always been important. But we cannot preach a path that we are unwilling to walk ourselves.

A man yelled at me, a couple days ago, saying that I was an asshole. I yelled back, “you are right, I am an asshole. Now you know it and you needn’t be confused about it in the future.” I absolutely will be an asshole when it comes to defending something that I believe in, which at times might just be my ego. At those times, all of my manners and diplomatic overtures will be forgotten. I am willing to dog it out. Sometimes we have to fight, but philosophically, we should be better than that. As a philosophy, we should be able to remember the inherent sincerity in each other and move on from there. What good is an I-just-want-to-be-better-than-the-next-guy philosophy? That is not a philosophy, it is just our lowest common denominator.

When I look at the conservative majority of our court, I know that I won’t allow myself to be defined by it. It is on me to keep moving and representing the things that I believe in. Every moment we make a choice, to be defined by others or to define ourselves. Let us not take this sacred power for granted. Own it. We are whoever we want to be.




Separately, from all of this high-spirited, philosophical talk, and back to my own look-at-me pursuits, if you’d like to support my artistry, you can buy my album, For The Record, over at BandCamp:

About the author

I am a King without a Kingdom, in a world with many masters, wrapped in the spoils of a jealous heart, and my people’s callous laughter.


  1. Indeed much to think about in this post…we are finding that the myth of this nation doesn’t have anyone willing to even begin to make it a reality these days.

  2. Moving forward is all we can do when it feels like we are surrounded by so much that is wrong. The reality is that we aren’t, that there is a lot of good around us if we just stop and look instead of dwelling on the crap that gets all of our attention. And the best way to contribute is to keep moving forward and practicing the right way to do things in our small corners of the universe.

    1. Yes, we have to be aware of all of the beautiful goodness around us as well. If we’re not seeing it, we just have to look a little harder, ’cause it’s usually right in front of us.

  3. Aloha. Thanks so much for writing and posting that. It was really what I needed to read. These times are extremely disturbing. Many thanks.

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